||[Mar. 23rd, 2005|01:07 pm]
Christian Left Issues
As I write this the Court of Appeals has rejected the urgent appeal by Mrs. Schiavo's parents to restore her feeding tube. They are now seeking a hearing before the full court (presumably they've counted noses and feel they have a better chance than with the Supremes) although their chances appear grim. If you are reading this, you already know this, so let me go on to my impressions of this little drama which has captured our national psyche.|
Evidence has come out recently that the Republican leadership in Congress has latched onto this issue as a way to rally its base. This is hardly a surprise. How can you tell that Tom Delay is pandering to his base? His lips are moving. The sad fact of the matter is that the law sending the measure to the federal courts was deliberately crafted not to work, leading to its inevitable failure and yet another chance for conservatives to claim that the courts are "out of control." As Thomas Frank has ably concluded in What's the Matter with Kansas? this leads to a call for more conservative judges, which then abandon social issues and instead rule on economic issues in a way that favor business at the expense of consumers and workers. If the foot soldiers on the right knew how they were being manipulated, they would think again about what their leadership is asking them to do.
The problem is, of course, that this movement works on a visceral rather than an intellectual level. The appeal to save Terri's life is largely an emotional one. The fact that Michael Schaivo has fathered two children with another woman has also touched a nerve with them. Demonizing the husband gives the issue added appeal, even though he has faithfully cared for her for these past years. The doctors who have examined her have concluded that her cerebral cortex has liquified. In effect, she is asleep and will never wake up. Michael has to be admired for sticking to his guns and honoring his wife's wishes. It would have been far easier to walk away and let her parents have their way.
As a father, I can understand the love they have for their daughter. However, as a husband I can understand Michael's position even more. The parents have been ill advised by the Church, who as usual is speaking about an area of medical ethics it does not seem to understand. While it is not obvious that medically provided nutrition and hydration is an extraordinary measure, using such to prolong the life of someone who has no higher brain, let alone higher brain function must be entirely appropriate. Until two years ago, the Church agreed. However, for whatever reason, Rome is seeking the extremes in search of a "consistent" pro-life ethic - as they have done so misguidedly with birth control. Historically, it was considered quite legitimate to withhold food from the dying. One would think that if someone cannot eat and cannot think that it is better to entrust them into God's hands. With the upcoming Easter season, one would hope that that the Church would remember that Terri will one day rise with Christ and that letting her die will hasten the time when her spirit can meet the Lord.
Some say that Terri should be kept alive to offer witness. In the Catholic tradition, when someone is suffering, they can offer witness to their faith through adversity. Terri Schaivo can offer no such witness, since she is not suffering. Offering witness is a conscious choice. She has no conciousness to make such a choice. She is an exhibit, rather than a witness, and what her case is exhibiting is how the Church has gone to extemes. The Lord cannot allow such insanity for much longer in his Church.
Let us all pray for Terri Schaivo. Rather than praying for the reconnecting of her feeding tube, however, let us pray for God's will for her rather than our own. If her parents and their supporters would only pray in this way, the nation would be spared a public airing of their family tragedy which has gone on for far too long.
When we were at St. Matthew's Cathedral for Mass on Palm Sunday, we encounted a protestor for Terri. This woman seemed quite distraught over Terri's circumstances. I doubt whether this woman had ever met Terri, yet her case seemed to be dominating her life. To her, and to all those committed people like her who have taken this personal tragedy on as their own, I have one thing to say in conclusion. GET A LIFE! As Jesus said to the weeping women on his way to crucifixion, do not weep for me, but for yourselves. There is plenty of calamity in our future (how can their not be with this administration in power). Let us worry about that, rather than Terri Schaivo.